By Alex Vejar
For The Signal
West Ranch senior Makenna Harper walked to the plate much like she had the previous four times throughout Monday afternoon. But this time, the situation called for a different mindset.
Junior Gianna Lombardi had just doubled on a 2-2 pitch with two outs in a tie game that was into its second extra inning. The daylight was fading fast.
An attempt to get Lombardi to third base with a bunt failed, and it was up to Harper to find a way to keep the game alive.
Harper’s efforts would soon pay off, though, as the Wildcats earned a 5-4 win in nine innings in their first home game of the season.
“I see her at two and I’m just like, ‘I have one job, and that’s to bring her home,’” said Harper, who recently signed to play softball at Arizona State.
“So I knew if I got it to the grass, I got a quick runner on two. She’ll be there. I wasn’t really worried about that. So right when it hit the grass, I was hoping it was at least a tie between a throw home. I knew she was going to get there before. It worked out in our favor, which is good.”
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Harper connected on a 2-1 pitch that brought Lombardi home. She went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, while junior Delaney Bevan went 1-for-2 with three runs scored and two walks.
Junior Jenna Rorick pitched a complete game, struck out six batters and walked only one.
West Ranch led 3-0 heading into the fifth inning when Kennedy got going offensively. Rorick gave up two consecutive singles before Cougars sophomore Alyssa Sierra and senior Tatiana Mejia drove in both those runners with no outs.
Senior Bianca Larios drove in two runs with a two-out double on an 0-1 pitch to give Kennedy a 4-3 lead.
“I wasn’t hitting my spots as I should’ve been,” Rorick said of allowing five hits and four runs in the top of the fifth.
Bevan hit a double in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, and senior Lauryn Bos drove her in with a single to tie the game at 4-all.
The Wildcats had an opportunity to blow the game open in the bottom of the fourth inning. The bases were loaded with only one out, but got out of the inning with just one run. West Ranch first-year coach Phil Giarrizzo said that turned the momentum Kennedy’s way.
But it was defense that proved the difference for the Wildcats, Giarrizzo said.
“(Kennedy) hit the ball very well,” Giarrizzo said. “They’re a good hitting team. Our defense held up to that. That’s something we pride ourselves on. We work hard on it in practice. Defense is our main thing.”
Despite the game going about the length of an MLB contest, Rorick said she and her team would not have minded if it went longer.
“I’ll pitch until my arm falls off,” Rorick said with a laugh.
West Ranch improved to 6-1 overall on the season and will play in the High Desert Classic starting on Friday.